Twenty-seven UCR employees and partners from across campus received their certificates as the first graduates of the Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI): A UCR Diversity Certificate Program.

The ceremony, held June 24, was the culmination of a five-month program that is designed to prepare staff members — ranging from the associate vice chancellor to administrative assistants — to maximize individual and team success within a multicultural work environment.

“I was struck by many things, but walking into the room filled with energy, ideas and enthusiasm for the work that had been accomplished was nothing short of infectious,” said Chancellor Timothy P. White. “I am proud and inspired by their work and this program, which has now been included as a best practice in the 2009 UCR Diversity Accountability Report to UCOP and the UC Board of Regents.”

Beginning in January, participants took part in five seminars that included lectures, interactive exercises and a final project.

“This was not just an academic exercise by any means,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor Gladys Brown, who was chair and co-creator of the program.
Final projects presented by program participants included “Successful Recruiting and Retention of a Diversified Graduate Student Body in the STEM Fields,” “Communicating Across Cultures,” “Diversifying and Training Staff Search Committee Members,” “Responding to Bias with the STAR Treatment (Stop, Think, Act, Respect),” as well as a proposed campus awareness campaign and a detailed proposal to revamp and revitalize the campus Diversity@UCR. All projects and their respective papers will be linked to the Diversity@UCR Web site.

Project posters will be on display in the Science Library.
Brown said the team projects will be implemented as part of the diversity education and leadership initiative at UCR.

“We designed this program to not only assist unit heads, supervisors and staff to function more effectively within a diverse workforce, but to establish promising practices that help departments to better support diversity at UCR,” said Brown.

Participants in the certificate program came from all across campus. Graduates included University Librarian Ruth Jackson, Maria LeBarrie from UC Mexus and Lorraine Saint, representing the Riverside mayor’s office.

The mayor hopes to bring the certificate program to city employees as well.

“The MEI program deepened my diversity knowledge while providing me with the opportunity to develop lasting partnerships across campus,” said Colleen Boddy Farnham, sexual harassment/sexual assault and diversity education specialist. “The program participants created high-quality, ready-to-go tools. It was a wonderful experience.”

The program brought experts from on and off campus who challenged participants to observe and recognize biased behavior in others, to re-evaluate their personal perceptions and to identify their own biases.

The program was partially funded through a grant from the UC Office of the President, and was created as a partnership between the associate vice chancellor of diversity, excellence and equity, Human Resources, the Office of Staff and Faculty Affirmative Action, University Extension and the vice chancellor of student affairs office.

The program will begin its second year in early January 2010. Sign-ups for the 2010 class will begin in October 2009. For more information visit Diversity@UCR.